Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Lion cub forms friendship with dog and rabbit (VIDEO)

    Simba the lion cub cuddles with Thumper the rabbit. (YouTube)

    A newly released video shows a rescued lion cub making an unusual pair of new friends: A dog and a rabbit. The actual video footage is 20 years old, but it's just been introduced to the public for the first time.

    In the video, 8-week-old Simba is playing with the animals inside the Glasgow, Scotland, home of two zookeepers. The Daily Mail notes that the video was shot sometime during the 1980s, when Simba was temporarily brought to the zookeepers' home after he fell ill while being raised at the now-closed Glasgow Zoo.

    After Simba recovered from his illness, he was eventually returned to the zoo. And his rapidly growing size also meant the budding friendship with Thumper the rabbit and Monty the dog could only be sustained for so long.

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  • Behind the scenes of New York’s ‘underwater night club’ (VIDEO)

    Last week, a video of an "underwater night club" in New York City went viral, drawing in millions of viewers from countless sites in more than 30 languages.

    Today, I spoke with Michael Krivicka, co-director and co-producer of the video, who tells Yahoo News how the unique creation came about.

    "We didn't want to create a hoax," says Krivicka, who produced the video with Thinkmodo co-founder James Percelay. "Instead, we imagined a 'what if' scenario. We wanted to make sure that this all could exist. The diving helmets are real; there are pressurized drinking containers. Some guy in Dubai has probably already seen this and is trying to make it happen."

    In the video, the underwater nightclub patrons are  lounging in futuristic diving helmets, shooting spear guns at dart boards and even dancing to music. The whole project was designed to promote TechnoMarine, a luxury watch company based in Switzerland. The original video is here:

    "They wanted us to feature their watches in a way that would bring coolness, innovation and a sense of  luxury to viewers," Krivicka said. "So, we thought, 'Why don't we create an environment that addresses all these things?'"

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  • Politico suspends reporter over Romney race comments

    Politico has suspended White House correspondent Joe Williams over comments suggesting that Mitt Romney is more "comfortable" around white people.

    Williams, who is African-American, made the comments during a Thursday appearance on Martin Bashir's MSNBC program. During the appearance, Williams discussed how he believes Romney appears more "comfortable" appearing on Fox News Channel, as opposed to other outlets, and implied that race is a factor:

    "Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. That's one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in town hall settings, why he can't relate to people other than that," Williams said during the appearance. "But when he comes on 'Fox and Friends,' they're like him. They're white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company."

    In the announcement on Williams' suspension, Politico writes:

    "Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams's public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment to this responsibility," POLITICO's founding editors John Harris and Jim VandeHei wrote in a memo to the staff. "His comment about Governor Romney earlier today on MSNBC fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way."

    Politico says Williams has been suspended while editors Harris and VandeHei review the matter.

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  • The view from Mount Everest Camp 3 at 24,000 feet (Alan Arnette/The Coloradoan/AP)

    A Chinese climber was reportedly just a few thousand feet from reaching the summit of Mount Everest when he was forced back down the mountain for not having a permit.

    Outside magazine reports that the unnamed climber, said to be a Han Chinese, was reportedly 25,500 feet up the mountain's North Col route when he was spotted camping alone, away from other expeditions.

    That's when the climber was apprehended by members of the Tibet Mountaineering Guide School (TMGS), who forcibly removed him from the trail and physically assaulted him, witnesses say.

    Two witnesses tell Outside that the TMGS members then subdued the hiker, who reportedly wielded his ice axe when confronted by them. In an email to Billi Bierling, the assistant to the Everest historian, one of the witnesses writes:

    "I did see the permitless chap being ushered down the hill.  The Tibetan rope fixers were sent up to get him. I saw them bringing him down the ropes from the North Col to [advanced base camp]. It was disgraceful. They literally kicked him down the ropes. It was a disgusting example of a pack of bullies egging each other on and literally beating him down the hill. It was absolutely unnecessary as he was offering no resistance and was scared out of his mind.  The Tibetans should, and could, have just escorted him down the hill and let the authorities deal with him."

    Permits for climbing Everest aren't cheap, with Outside reporting that they cost a minimum of $25,000 "on the low end." And that's not including other substantial costs such as gear and tour guides. The Everest K2 News site site provides more information on obtaining the proper paperwork before trying to climb the famous mountain.

    Life's Little Mysteries writes that permits for climbing Everest typically cost upward of $70,000, though an expedition team of 7 to 10 climbers usually splits those costs. Despite the large expenses involved, and the inherent risks, there is a virtual "traffic jam" of aspiring climbers wanting to make the Everest ascent.

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  • Century plant undergoes rare blooming in South Carolina

    Gerald Brantley stands in front of his century plant. (The State)

    The century plant, a tall agave plant once thought to bloom every 100 years, is now on full display at one South Carolina house.

    The State reports that Gerald Brantley has put up a sign directing tourists to the Agave americana, aka century plant, growing in his front yard. Although it doesn't actually take 100 years for the plant to bloom, it is still a rare sight to behold, only flowering once about every 10 to 30 years. Adding to its unique nature, the plant dies off shortly after it blooms.

    Brantley says he transported the nearly 30-foot-tall plant from his mother's home in Georgia about 20 years ago. The century plant is normally about 6 feet tall but experiences rapid growth as it begins to bloom.

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  • Mass grave of ‘giant wombats’ discovered in Australia

    A Tazmanian wombat (Susan Montoya Bryan/AP)

    Scientists have discovered a mass grave that is home to about 50 prehistoric "giant wombats," the largest known marsupial that ever lived.

    The BBC reports the Diprotodon skeletons, believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old, were discovered in Queensland, Australia, and represent a potentially historic find.

    "It's a paleontologist's' goldmine where we can really see what these megafauna were doing, how they actually behaved, what their ecology was," said lead scientist Scott Hocknull, from the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. "When we did the initial survey I was just completely blown away by the concentrations of these fragments."

    The largest of the specimens has been nicknamed "Kenny," and reportedly has a 28-inch-wide jawbone. Though not exactly the same as the modern day wombat, the Diprotodon is considered a direct relative of the Australian herbivore.

    The Diprotodon were of epic proportions; the size of a rhinoceros (about 10 feet long) and weighed more than 6,000 pounds. They had backward-facing pouches that were big enough to carry an adult human, according to the BBC.

    The 50 specimens reportedly became trapped in the boggy area and were likely killed by prehistoric crocodiles and other lizards, whose skeletons have also been discovered at the site.

    "We're almost certain that most of these carcasses of Diprotodon have been torn apart by both the crocodiles and the lizards, because we've found shed teeth within their skeletons from both animals," Hocknull said.

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  • Why photos of McDonald’s burgers look so much better than the real thing

    A McDonald's cheeseburger compared with the same burger styled for photography (YouTube/McDonald's Canada)

    There's no denying that pretty much any photo of a fast-food burger looks better than the real thing. And in a fascinating development, McDonald's Canada has revealed the exacting process of food styling the company's burgers for advertising campaigns.

    The qualitative gap between food advertising and the actual product raises all sorts of questions, not the least of which is, is it even the same stuff?

    "I think that it's important to note that all the ingredients are the exact same ingredients that we use in the restaurant," Hope Bagozzi, director of marketing for McDonald's Canada, says in a new video posted to YouTube. "So, it is the exact same patty, it's the exact same ketchup, mustard and onions, and same buns."

    McDonald's Canada has a "your questions" section on its website and Bagozzi was responding to a question from Toronto reader Isabel M. who asked, "Why does your food look different in the advertising than what's in the store?"

    "It's a great question, Isabel," Bagozzi says in the video. "We get asked that a lot."

    Here's the video of her response:

    Bagozzi takes viewers into a local McDonald's, where she orders a quarter pounder with cheese. She then goes to the Watt International photography studio, which handles the burger photo campaigns for McDonald's Canada.

    'That burger [made in McDonald's] was made in about a minute or so," Bagozzi says. "The process we go through on the average shoot takes several hours."

    The main difference in the presentation is that the food stylist and the photographer deliberately and carefully place the ingredients so that each is visible in the most flattering way possible to the viewer.

    'This way we can at least tell people you have ketchup, you have mustard, you have two pieces of cheese and you know what you're getting," the food stylist says.

    The cheese is then carefully melted with a hot iron.

    And when Bagozzi says, "It's like you're a surgeon in there," she's not too far off as Noah literally uses a syringe to garnish with the ketchup and mustard.

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  • UPDATE: Las Vegas roulette wheel reportedly hits 19 seven straight times

    The odds-defying, Las Vegas roulette wheel (Jeff Romano/Twitter)

    [UPDATE: 6/21 6:19pm ET]

    ABC News reports that the numerical sequence was only a test by the casino and not a live result. Professional card player Jeff Romano has updated his Twitter feed, stating that he was not intentionally trying to mislead the public. Romano responded to a request for explanation on Twitter, writing:

    "I dont need to explain anything I took a pic of the wheel when I saw people around it, then left, what do you want from me"

    The Detroit News confirms the non-news, adding a quote from Rio spokesman Gary Thompson, who told the paper, "There was no one playing at that table. It was just a diagnostic test being done."

    Needless to say, we're glad we hedged our bets on this one. Original story begins below. We've also added a pair of photos from readers showing other purported roulette anomaly occurrences at the bottom of the original post.

    **********

    A photo taken by a professional gambler in Las Vegas purports to show a roulette wheel hitting the number 19 seven times in a row. And as the Las Vegas Sun notes, the odds of striking such a remarkable set are an astounding 3 billion to 1.

    The sequence reportedly occurred at 8:32 p.m. on Monday at the Rio Casino when professional poker player Jeff Romano captured the image on his phone's camera and uploaded it to Twitter. In a subsequent tweet, Romano responded to inquiring readers by noting he was "just passing by" the roulette table when he spotted the numbers.

    After hitting 19 for the seventh time in a row, the wheel landed on the number 15 for the eighth spin. But the wheel then hit 19 one more time on its ninth spin.

    Caesars Entertainment tells the Sun that it was unaware of the alleged string of numbers until contacted by the paper.

    The paper has not yet been able to verify the accuracy of the event, including questions about whether it could have occurred if the roulette wheel was not properly aligned. But if true, the Sun notes this would be "one of the rarest documented roulette runs in the city's history."

    Read More »from UPDATE: Las Vegas roulette wheel reportedly hits 19 seven straight times
  • Easter Island’s statues may have been ‘walked’ to their location

    Were the giant statues on Easter Island actually "walked" to their final resting spots?

    Researchers have unveiled a new theory that may redefine the historical understanding of how natives on Easter Island transported the iconic moai statues.

    Writing in July's issue of National Geographic magazine, California State University at Long Beach archeologist Carl Lipo and Hawaii anthropologist Terry Hunt postulate that Polynesian natives used a system of ropes and manpower to walk the statues across the island.

    "A lot of what people think they know about the island turns out to be not true," Lipo says.

    Using the ropes, islanders would stand on each side of the statues, swaying them back and forth to create the walking effect.

    Popular theory has held that the islanders created sled-like devices out of the island's trees to cart the statues. That theory also claims that deforestation from the island's inhabitants as part of the statue transporting process was directly tied to the population's eventual downfall.

    Instead, Lipo and Hunt say the island's population was actually sustainable and instead fell victim to disease when European explorers first visited the island. In fact, Lipo said the cooperative effort involved in his transportation theory might have led to a more harmonious existence amongst Easter Island's inhabitants.

    "You're actually putting a lot of your effort into the process of moving a statue rather than fighting," Lipo said. "Moving the moai was a little bit like playing a football game."

    Jared Diamond, proponent of the sled transportation and subsequent deforestation theory, has disputed the new theory.

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  • Fake news reporter pranks gullible New Yorkers (VIDEO)

    Comedian Dan Hodapp dressed as fake news reporter Mike Holland (Jest.com)

    More than 10 years after "The Daily Show" debuted, you'd think New Yorkers would be less prone to the antics of a comedic fake news reporter. But making that assumption, you'd be almost as ill-informed as the people being pranked in the video below.

    Comedian Dan Hodapp puts on his best news anchor outfit and becomes "Mike Holland, Fake News Reporter," in a video produced by the comedy video website Jest.com. Hitting the streets of New York City, "Holland" asks random pedestrians some outlandish questions, like, "Earlier this week, President Obama fired the entire U.S. Senate. What do you think about that?"

    The respondent, who appears genuinely shocked by the news and maybe a little embarrassed, says, "Actually, I hadn't even heard about that."

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